If Leeds wasn’t your first choice

University of Leeds
4 min readAug 18, 2022

We’re happy to have you regardless. The University of Leeds is one of the top higher education institutions in the UK, so you should be proud of yourself for getting here. However, we appreciate that you might not feel very excited to be here. Hopefully, as you learn more about the University, make new friends and explore Leeds, you’ll change your mind about it, but for now, there are a few things to keep in mind and do to feel better.

A group of students are talking in the sun outside.
Students talking near ‘Sign for Art’ sculpture by Keith Wilson.

1. Remember the world is not falling apart even if it feels like it is. You still made it to university. Take your time to mourn a lost opportunity, but remind yourself that you did your best. If you could do more, you would have done it, so don’t beat yourself up for not trying hard enough.

2. You’re not alone. Not getting into your first choice university is common and does not mean you did something wrong or there is anything wrong with you. Throughout this blog post, we will quote Tom who went through the same experience as an undergraduate. He had a hard time adjusting to his situation, but in the end, he made long-lasting friendships and exceed academically and is about to finish his PhD at the School of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Leeds. However, he also admits:

If I embraced my circumstances more enthusiastically, I’d have a better time in the beginning.

3. Don’t forget that you chose The University of Leeds for a reason. Perhaps it can’t provide you with the same benefits as your first choice university, but there must be something that made you decide to choose Leeds. Take time to investigate that and ensure you take full advantage of these benefits. Tom said that at the beginning his course wasn’t as challenging as he’d liked, but it got more difficult as it went on:

I did learn a fair amount and I have more practical experience than my colleagues and than those studying chemistry at Leeds.

4. Of course, it matters which university you went to, but in the end, what matters the most is what you make of it and your attitude. So, even if you’re not exactly in the place you want to be, you can still succeed in most things that matter to you. When you put things into perspective, even though important, these few years of your life at university do not determine your whole life. Tom was offered a PhD opportunity at The University of Leeds, even though he studied at a non-Russel Group university before. He recalls:

I got my PhD offer because in the past years The University of Leeds had had trouble with students infighting during the master’ segment of the PhD. I was asked what I would do if someone wasn’t doing the work they were supposed to. I answered that I’d stay and do work with them, hoping that the comradery would get us through. And in fact, I made friends this way during my PhD.

Spring blossom in Leeds Park.
Spring blossom in Leeds Park.

5. Make sure you explore the University and Leeds as much as possible. Join a society or a club at LUU. If there’s nothing that sparks your interest, you can create your own society or start a study group to keep intellectually challenging yourself. Also, visit some places in Leeds and Yorkshire. There’s plenty to see and do here. You can take a look at some of our favourite locations here, here and here. Spending your free time in a stimulating way will make you feel more positive about your situation.

Tom said:

I reasoned that other people seem to be happy when they’re around others and doing stuff, so I made myself repeatedly attend societies. It was difficult and awkward at the start but got much better. I felt like that’s when my uni experience truly began.

6. If you feel dissatisfied and disappointed after a few weeks from starting your course, talk to someone who can help you. Your personal tutor can advise and guide you on making the most of your time in academia. The well-being team can help you with managing difficult emotions. When looking back at his experience, Tom recalls that he felt there was no support available, but now he thinks that

it was there if I sought it out, but the people who need it most often don’t do it, especially if they feel worthless.

Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. There’s no shame in asking for help and these people are here to help you.

7. Lastly, if you find you don’t enjoy your course, you can explore your other options. Maybe changing your course would help? Perhaps you could consider transferring to another university (we’d be sad to see you go, though)? Or maybe you need a break from an educational system and would benefit from a gap year? There is no one answer to what you should do, so before you make any decisions, make sure you talk to your personal tutor and other people in your life.

Hopefully, this advice will help you take actions to feel more positive about being a student at The University of Leeds. We are sure there’s a lot you can learn and experience here.

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